It is the time of the year when things, while not necessarily slow down in nature, present less opportunities to see "new" things. All the flowers have come, and most have gone. Leaves are falling, animals either leaving or busy filling larders for the winter. Some have reached the end of their cycles, having passed on their genes to the next generation, butterflies and dragonflies being the most obvious of these. While some butterflies and dragonflies will migrate, most either winter over in the dead leaves, emerging in the spring to mate and then die, or they have already laid their eggs, which will lay dormant until spring and the begin the larval stage.
I haven't always given much thought to bees. Bumblebees in particular. This fall I have noticed that as I walk by thistle plants in the cool mornings and waning afternoon warmth, that many of the lingering blossoms have bees on them. Most times one sometimes two, they just seem to be sleeping there.
Upon further research I learned more about these bumbleing bees of fall. As fall approaches they switch from producing worker bees to Queen bees and mating males. Only the queens will survive the winter, already having mated and full of eggs. The males, once they have done their part of the job, eat, sleep and pass away. They like to cuddle into blossoms and I can imagine them, after a hard summer (6 to 8 weeks) they tucking into the soft petals, occasionally sipping some sweet nectar, until they pass to the other side.
So the next time you walk past a late blooming thistle or other flower, take a peek. The end of summer, wrapped up in a furry yellow and black jacket is taking it's final repose.